Red ‘arils’ of yew tree (Taxus baccata), September

Taxus baccata (Yew) MetaFlorica garden, the Netherlands. Conspicuous red arils of a Yew. These seed cones are highly modified, each cone containing a single seed partly surrounded by a soft, bright red berry-like structure called an aril, open at one side. The arils are mature 6–9 months after pollination, and with the seed contained are eaten by thrushes, waxwings and other birds, which disperse the hard seeds undamaged. The seed itself is extremely poisonous and bitter. The aril is not poisonous, and is gelatinous and very sweet tasting. Most parts of the tree are toxic, except the bright red arils surrounding the seed, enabling ingestion and dispersal by birds. The leaves are highly poisonous. Taxus baccata is a medium-sized evergreen conifer. The bark is thin, scaly brown, coming off in small flakes. The leaves are lanceolate, flat, dark green. September.

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